Getting healthy and staying healthy takes time, and extra time is hard to come by.

But the benefit is both personal and professional. You’ll feel better and lead better when you are fit, focused, and have energy for what matters most.

Sharon McDowell-Larsen, is CCL’s resident health and fitness expert. An exercise physiologist, she leads the Fitness for Leadership module of Leadership at the Peak, CCL’s program for senior executives. Prior to joining CCL, she worked in the Sports Science Lab at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

Depending on your fitness goals, here are 11 resources she recommends to help you pick a place to focus your goals in the future.

Interested in… Brain Health?

  • Your brain is your most important asset. If you want to learn what makes the brain work and how to best take care of it, start with McDowell-Larsen’s white paper, The Care and Feeding of the Leader’s Brain. The paper summarizes the role of exercise, diet, sleep and stress on brain function and health.
  • For a closer look into how the brain works and the habits that that can improve or hurt memory and cognitive function read Brain Rules by John Medina. The updated, 2014 edition will fill you in on brain facts and how they can be applied to real life.
  • Power Foods for the Brain, by Dr. Neal Barnard, fills in a gap in Medina’s book by reviewing the profound role that nutrition can play in preserving long-term brain health and function. Dr. Barnard is a published researcher and has an in-depth knowledge of nutrition and its impact on health and chronic disease, including reversing diabetes and understanding Alzheimer’s disease.

Interested in… Weight Loss?

  • Getting to a healthy body weight isn’t just about the scale. A diet can only be successful if what you eat supports longevity and reduces your risk for dementia, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. In addition, it should improve your energy levels and day-to-day function. The End of Dieting by Dr. Joel Fuhrman uses an evidenced-based approach to sound nutrition. The key is to eat foods that are both “nutrient dense” and “calorie dilute.
  • If you prefer a lecture or video format to learning, take a look at How to Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind with psychologist Dr. Doug Lisle. In an interesting and entertaining way, he talks about different mechanisms of satiation, why calorie density is so important and why so many of us find calorie-dense foods to be so seductive and addictive.

Interested in… Exercise?

  • We all know the value of exercise — the challenge is finding exercise strategies that are effective and that work for you. For those who like to run, bike, swim or do all three, one of the best training books out there is 80/20 Running by Matt Fitzgerald. He explains that training at a relatively easy pace (below race pace) 80 percent of the time and at high intensity for 20 percent of the time has proven to be as close to the perfect ratio as you can get — both for elite athletes and those of us who have less time to train. Plus, you’ll read examples of how to design a program for yourself.
  • Looking for an app to simplify your workout? The 7-Minute Workout is a quick and easy workout to follow for those who are time-crunched. The Tabata Pro is also good for short, intense interval workouts. It has an easy-to-follow countdown timer and you can set your rest/work interval times. You can fit in more yoga – at home or on-the-go – with Yoga Studio. Select different sessions, too, from shorter to longer, easier to more difficult.

Interested in… Caring for Your Joints?

If you are wondering how to protect your joints or reduce joint pain caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or other inflammatory joint conditions, don’t miss these two presentations.

  • A Natural Approach to Arthritis, by Dr. Steve Blake. This is an evidenced-based presentation, not a slick video, on strategies to keep your joints healthy and young. Dr. Blake is a nutritional biochemist, has a Ph.D. in naturopathic medicine and is a muscular therapist.
  • Inflammatory Arthritis, by Dr. John McDougall. In this presentation Dr. McDougall talks about nutritional approaches to preventing and even reversing inflammatory conditions of the joints. His ideas are evidenced-based, and he shares case studies of people who no longer live with joint pain and arthritis as a result of changing their diet.

Interested in… All Things Nutrition?

  • With thousands of studies published each year in the area of nutritional science, information on nutrition can be confusing. If you want an easy way to get to the original research, add to your favorites list. Dr. Michael Greger reviews thousands of studies every year and posts a daily 3- to 8-minute video clip reviewing interesting and relevant research. You can link to the research abstracts.

Interested in… Fitness Tracking?

  • If the data junkie in you is looking to invest in a fitness band, Sharon says the Garmin VivoFit is a great way to go. It tracks steps and calories with time of day, gives you sleep metrics, reminds you to get moving if you are sitting too long, and links up to a heart-rate monitor. Uploads your data wirelessly, too.

Bottom line: Match your interests to your actions — think about your motivation for being healthy, pick a starting point and get support for fitting fitness into your busy life.

Read more from Sharon at her personal blog.

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